If you dial back to the early 20th century, variations of the modern “Gig Economy” can be found in the entertainment industry with Hollywood executives recruiting free agent talent, musicians chasing the next venue for pay and actors vying for their big “Shot” on Broadway. The gig concept is definitely not a new one, however up until recently, finding the right talent to deliver a gig required a complex network of “middlemen” that would match the right talent with the right employer. Hence, the rise of talent agencies (in the entertainment world) and staffing agencies (in the corporate world). It has only been in the last 10 years (or so) that we have experienced a fundamental shift in what we label today the Gig Economy.
The convergence of cloud and mobile technologies with the global community has created a new paradigm in which the power of the middleman has been minimized and gig seekers can go directly to the source to deliver their service. With the meteoric rise of companies like Uber and Airbnb the Gig Economy has provided varying cloud platforms democratizing the ability for the average worker to break into industries at no cost (which previously required significant amounts of capital). As a result, this leveling of the playing field has provided the opportunity for many to strike out on their own. In the end, although this has hurt some industries (e.g. hoteliers and taxi services) other service industries can now benefit from the broadening affordable talent pool easily accessible via the Cloud.
For the professional services world, the Gig Economy provides both opportunities and challenges to all parties involved. For professional services organizations (PSOs), this means easier access to talent on demand, which can lower operating costs without compromising the quality of service delivery. For contractors and freelancers seeking work, the technology platforms that support their livelihood delivers transparency in their skill set (as a meritocracy) enabling them to charge equitable fees based on their customer ratings. As far as challenges, the Gig Economy has created a growing workforce that has a limited safety net in terms of stability and benefits one would typically get in more traditional employment. Moreover, PSOs that are embracing this new economy are faced with a more transient and difficult to manage subset of their workforce. With less responsibility to these workers comes less control and predictability on the resources and their ability to deliver.
The Uberization of a PSO workforce demands a more systematic and collaborative approach to running a successful services practice. In fact, even in the smallest of PSOs, Professional Services Automation software (PSA software) becomes critical in managing your resources which are key contributors to any successful and profitable services business. Those participating in the Gig Economy can have a significant portion of the delivery team that is removed physically (and in many cases, culturally) from the businesses they serve. In light of this new reality, PSA solutions are needed to act as the “eyes and ears” of all projects and people responsible for a PSOs success. Especially in the area of forecasting, the Gig Economy throws another wrench into the process of getting a better handle on effectively delivering results to current and future customers. With more variable costs at hand and the demand for fix bid contracts by prospective customers, PSA solutions can notify key stakeholders and deliver a centralized view of current and future resource activities and financial margins to remain competitive while delivering on customer expectations.
About the Author: Neil Stolovitsky has over 17 years of IT experience with end-user, consulting, and vendor organizations, along with extensive expertise in business development, software selection, and channel strategies. He has published numerous white papers and articles covering Professional Services Automation, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for service industries, Project Portfolio Management, IT Governance, and New Product Development to a global audience. Neil currently holds the position of Senior Solution Consultant with Upland Software.
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